1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

The PhD Degree Program


The PhD program in Anthropology at the University of Virginia is designed to lead students from a common and broad acquaintance with fundamental issues of anthropological theory to their own individually tailored agenda of original scholarly research and writing. The accent throughout is on preparation to make a valuable contribution to knowledge through field research, analysis, and writing.

The first year of our PhD program is devoted primarily to achieving a solid grounding in social theory through a set of “common” and elective courses emphasizing critical engagement with the history of the discipline and contemporary theory.

In the second year, students focus more intensively on developing mastery of the existing bodies of scholarship on their research topics and areas. Working closely with faculty, they prepare two essays that critically review the “state of the field” in two areas of scholarly literature relevant to their planned dissertation research.

During the summers following this first and second years of coursework, most PhD students visit their chosen field areas to assess the feasibility of research on their planned topics, to establish preliminary contacts, and to study local languages.

In the third year of study, PhD students complete any remaining coursework and write their dissertation research proposal and grant applications.

Once they have passed their proposal and received funding, students carry out field research for one year or more. After returning from their field research, they write up their dissertation in consultation with the faculty members on their dissertation committee.

For a more detailed description of the specific requirements of the PhD program in Anthropology at the University of Virginia, please visit Program Description under Enrolled Graduate Students.